Hill: Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill, An Teallach Date: Saturday 8th February 2014
Company: Myself, Dan, Alan, Jake and Jane
Distance: 15km, Ascent: 1065m
On Saturday morning, Dan, Alan, Jake, Jane and I set off from Dundonnell to ascend An Teallach. With an MWIS forecast suggesting only a 40% chance of cloud-free Munros, the weather at the outset exceeded our expectations.
After passing through the roadside gap in the hedge, we followed the track marked on the OS Landranger map to a height of circa 230m.
Dan ascending track heading up from Dundonnell:
The early morning views were terrific, especially looking North towards Coigach and South towards Glas Mheall Mor, a Munro Top of An Teallach.
Looking back towards Ben Mor Coigach and Beinn nam Ban:
At a height of 230m, we left the track marked on the map and continued following the track on the ground leading into Coir a’Mhuilinn. I last ascended An Teallach via this track in October 2013 with several more friends from the Moray Mountaineering Club.
Glas Mheall Mor:
As we made our way up the track, we spotted a couple of deer on the track ahead.
Deer on track:
The walk in was really pleasant.
Jake and Alan ascending track:
We reached the snowline around 500m and continued to follow the track ascending Coir a’Mhuillin, which was still clearly visible despite the snow.
Ascending névé in Coir a’Mhuilinn:
Walking on the crisp, hard snow was fantastic; so much nicer than wading through deep, soft powder.
On the track in Coir a’Mhuilinn:
Jane on the track in Coir a’Mhuilinn (photo by Dan):
As we gained more and more height, we were able to make out a good number of Coigach and Assynt hills including Suilven.
Coigach and Assynt (zoom):
We opted to bypass Glas Mheall Mor with Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill being our first target of the day.
Glas Mheall Mor:
On gaining the ridge the wind increased but not to a significant force.
A short distance below the 919m top we stopped for our first break of the day. As well as having a bite to eat and a drink, we all put on crampons and got our axes out. I also put on my waterproofs and myself and Dan put on helmets.
Looking back to Sròn a’Choire:
The ascent of Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill was not straight-forward. There was no sign of the path that ascends Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill diagonally,
it was covered in snow. We therefore ascended the steep NNE ridge directly. By
now visibility had dropped to only a few metres. On reaching the crest of the
ridge we could make out substantial cornices. We continued along the crest of
the ridge keeping sufficiently well back from the cornices. In places the ice
was so hard that you really had to kick in with the crampons as well as drive in
the axe for a bit of extra support.
Seeing the summit trig point a short
distance ahead was a bit of a relief. Just before the summit Jane, Jake, Alan
and Dan posed for the camera
A few metres from the summit of Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill:
Myself a few metres from the summit of An Teallach (photo by Alan):
We were all delighted to have reached the summit.
Jane, Jake, Alan and Dan at the summit of Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill:
At the summit we had a brief discussion about our next destination. We concluded that given the poor visibility, the difficulties already faced ascending Bidein a’Ghlas Thuill and the fact that MWIS had suggested the weather forecast would deteriorate in the afternoon that descending back the way we came was the most prudent option.
We made our way back down towards the col following our inbound crampon marks and taking additional care in descent as this was no place for a slip.
On reaching the col, we agreed that it would be good to extend the day so we opted to head back out to Ardessie and onto Sail Mhor Croft, where we were staying.
As we progressed towards the small peak beyond Sròn a’Choire, the weather definitely took a turn for the worse with the wind speed increasing significantly and swirling around creating numerous vortices of spindrift.
Myself and Alan ascending small peak beyond Sròn a’Choire (photo by Dan):
Walking through the spindrift was fairly unpleasant.
Myself and Alan getting blasted by spindrift (photo by Dan):
Next we made our way down Coir’ an Teallaich. Jane, Jake and Dan enjoyed some lengthy glissades
Jane glissading down Coir’ an Teallaich (photo by Dan):
Descending via Coir’ an Teallaich:
Looking back towards Jane and Jake:
The final two hours of the walk back out to Ardessie, and onto Camusnagaul, can only be described as pants. The ground became increasingly wet underfoot and snow turned to rain as we descended below the snowline.
The track alongside the Allt Airdeasaidh was as bad as I remembered from my previous ascent of Sail Mhor.
Descending the Allt Airdeasaidh track:
It was however nice to see the Ardessie falls again during the descent.
After walking just over one kilometre back along the road it was great to get
into the hostel for a nice hot cup of tea. Despite the changeable weather, this
was a really enjoyable day out in excellent company